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Ceridwen

Ceridwen

You kids get off my lawn. 

Y: The Last Man, Deluxe Edition 01 - Brian K. Vaughan Usually I love this sort of thing, but this fell apart for me in the third act. This is not unusual for end-times fictions - writing about the apocalypse comes ready-packed with emotional explosions wired up to a timer of schadenfreude and latent nihilism. But then once the fireworks die down, you actually have to tell a story, and here's where writers trip over the wreckage. Here, all the male mammals die, suddenly, inexplicably. One guy named Yorick and his monkey survive.

The opening section is brutal, and really conveyed how traumatized the remaining women would be - planes falling from the sky, heavy industry and much of our infrastructure, ahem, unmanned. Most of any given government would be dead - and there's a great scene where the wives of Republican elected leaders get into a throw-down with the democratically elected Democratic women - maybe not surprisingly, most women elected to office in the US are liberal of one stripe or another, so the government, what was left anyways, was (ahem) left. The GOP ladies wanted to assume their husbands seats; the DNC ladies thought maybe they should be elected first. Cue gunfire.

In this new world, Yorick roams around trying to find passage to Australia, where his gf was when the cataclysm went down. Here's where things start to go wrong for me. I don't like Yorick: he's one of those blanks who is structurally important - he's the last man on Earth - but otherwise he seems self-involved to the point of total narcissism. His love and loss of his busty, hiking gf seems in poor contrast with the loss by every woman of every single man in their lives: husbands, fathers, brothers, children. (Also, the entire Catholic hierarchy, every single imam, most of the combat soldiers, etc.) He's lost these things too, but seems strangely unaffected. Again, some of this is structural - he's the one everyone tells what's going on, so that the reader knows - but I guess I'm just bothered by how blithe he is, how naive.

The latter sections go even more wrong, with the introduction of a group of cartoony ball-busters, the Amazons, who chop off one of their breasts - and I'm sorry to say, the wrong one; it's the right one ladies, not the left - and go around trying to topple the Washington Monument and stuff. (Okay, that last bit was funny.) Yorick's sister falls in with them though, and then the plot goes all familial psychodrama. I like familial psychodrama much of the time, but Hero - did I mention her name was Hero? Gag me, Heather - but I just didn't buy her, the movement, the rhetoric. All of the men are gone; what's left for a poorly caricatured bra-burning femist to rail against? Oh right, there's the one. It's a regular problem with end-of-the-world - c'mon people, really, there are corpses in the street and food's running scarce, and you're going off on some stupid vendetta or political mission? Priorities, people. But I don't know, the last time, we, historically speaking, had an event on this scale was the black plague, and much wackiness when down then: flagellants, pogroms, etc.

Yorick Candides his way across the US, and the final act is meeting up with a community with a seeeekrit, which ends in a conflict with all of our major players speechifying and pointing weapons at each other. Oh nos! This last bit was rushed, and unsatisfying, winding to a final plot-twist/reversal and muhahaha muhahaha. I suspect that this will become the template for the later series - Yorick bumbles into a community, tensions rise, conflict, and then resolution. This is fine - this is what made the A-Team so wonderful - but it's such an odd view of community - isolated, self-contained, without reference to larger world events.

All in all, I liked this series, especially its beginning, but I'm not reading any more. And I'm still giggling about the irony of imagining a world without men, and then writing a story in which all of the women are sidekicks or lesser characters. When I go to chop off my breast, it will be the right one, my friends. Watch out.